Tea party fever is sweeping the nation and doesn’t look like it’s going to ease off anytime soon. We Brits have gone crazy for finger sandwiches, dainty cakes and fancy teapots, flocking to various venues for our fix or hosting tea parties in our own homes.
We find that the real secret to the tea party’s enduring charm isn’t the food, however, but the opportunity for stress-free relaxation with our nearest and dearest. After all, tea and cake are two of the most comforting things in the world, helping us to relax into a good chin wag and quality time with our loved ones. That isn’t to say that the food and decoration don’t matter though; they can help to enhance those feelings of complete contentment even further.
So, how exactly do you create the perfect tea party?
Turn classics on their head
Classics are ‘classic’ for a reason, but that doesn’t mean to say they can’t be given a quirky twist. Rather than serving simple jam sandwiches, why not make lollipop jam sandwiches? Take a slice of bread and flatten it with a rolling pin, before cutting off the crusts and smothering it with delicious jam. Next, roll up the slice of bread, wrap it in cling film and chill it in the fridge for thirty minutes. When you take it out, slice your rolled up sandwich into five individual ‘lollipops’ and skewer each one on a cocktail stick. Et voila!
You could also try these queen of puddings cupcakes (a twist on the classic cake), and serve savoury scones alongside sweet ones. They’re a little more adventurous and can be baked with classic tea party sandwich fillings like ham and mustard.
Cupcakes were practically made for tea parties. They’re simple to make, they look pretty and they’re amazingly versatile, as our Betta Bake a Cupcake competition showed. People submitted cupcake recipes that are perfect for kids and cupcake recipes containing healthy ingredients, but most importantly, they submitted indulgent and decorative cupcake recipes that are just perfect for tea parties. We particularly love these strawberry cupcakes with coconut dark chocolate ganache, and these homely Bakewell tart cupcakes.
Serve adventurous teas
A tea party is a chance to be a tad more adventurous with your brews. Don’t just rely on your stash of PG Tips – make your party feel like a party with tea that’s a bit special and complementary to your food. Think Darjeeling, earl grey, jasmine and rose blends, in loose leaf varieties rather than teabags; they’re so much more flavoursome.
Mis-match your crockery
A tea party is a nostalgic get-together that cries out for a charming aesthetic. An easy way to achieve this is to mis-match your crockery, bringing together different patterns, colours and shapes that complement each other nicely. Charity shops are a great place to find different vintage styles, while even high street shops now burst with everything from teapots shaped like elephants, to teacups and saucers adorned with vibrant watercolour flowers. Just remember not to go too outlandish, as you may end up with more of a higgledy-piggledy mess than olde worlde charm.
Pour over presentation
Presentation is everything when it comes to creating the perfect tea party. Rather than bringing out the food bit by bit once your guests have arrived, have it laid out for them beforehand to make a big impact when they enter. Set places, serve your milk in pretty jugs and milk bottles, place your cakes and other sweet things on a cake stand and use proper patterned plates – paper plates have no place at a tea party!
You could also decorate the room by stringing up bunting and using vintage treasures as focal points. Worn-in leather suitcases look lovely, as do old records and jewellery.
Play background music
Music can change the atmosphere of a tea party in seconds, but not just any music. We’re talking about the iconic songs of the past. Jazz and swing are perfect for evoking the lively spirit of eras gone by, while musicians like Buddy Holly, Billie Holiday and Nat King Cole help to create a really contented atmosphere.
Encourage people to dress up
Getting dressed up for a tea party is half the fun, so encourage your guests to wear their best frocks and sharpest shirts. You could even encourage people to go one step further and step out in vintage attire – it’s so evocative of the eras the tea party has become synonymous with (plus it’s lots of fun!).
We hope this post has gotten you in the mood to throw your very own tea party. You’ll find that all of these preparations are just as fun as the actual party, and will be well worth the time spent when you see the smiles on your guests’ faces. Now, where did we put those cucumber sandwiches…?